You're not allowed to take photos at Soho House Istanbul. I learn this the hard way: a polite tap on my shoulder as I raise my iPhone for a selfie. The reason is simple: this is, first and foremost, a private members' club and it's important to the proprietors that their guests' privacy is respected. My sunburnt selfie might seem innocent enough, but what if Daisy Lowe or Jeremy Clarkson were lurking in the background? Both, incidentally, put in appearances at the hotel's launch party in April.
Soho House Istanbul is the latest outpost of the ever-expanding hospitality empire, founded by Nick Jones in Soho, London, 20 years ago. The clubs still draw in members from film, media, and other creative industries, but the doors have been opened to the public at hotels in Somerset, New York, Berlin and Miami.
Soho House Istanbul is arguably the most beautiful yet. The club is in the restored Palazzo Corpi, a white, Italian-style mansion built by a Genoese ship owner for his family in 1873. The building became the US Embassy in 1906, and then the US Consulate in 1937. Now, Soho House has worked its magic. The design team has repaired the building's original frescos (wallpapered over by the Americans) and buffed up the marble flooring and rosewood doors so they gleam once again.
The building has also been updated with a rooftop pool, a bar with mesmerising views across the Golden Horn, a games room, and a late night club with live music and DJs. Adjacent to the palazzo is a new glass addition that houses the 87 bedrooms – this is principally still a members' club, with rooms attached.
However, once inside the rooms, non-members are afforded the same privileges bestowed upon members, namely access to the clubhouse, including the rooftop. That said, the booking process is somewhat rigorous. Umut Sengun, the hotel's marketing and communications manager, tells me that staff here actually look up prospective visitors on Twitter, Instagram, and Google to make sure they "fit" with the club's relaxed, creative vibe. Read: no suits, please.
Turkey's largest city famously straddles Europe and Asia. Soho House Istanbul is located in the European sector, in buzzing Beyoglu – Istanbul's answer to Soho. This district was the heart of the city's embassy district in the 19th century and is more recently the apex of all that's hip. It's also the location of the 14th-century Genoese Galata Tower. Beyoglu's streets are cobbled and narrow, flanked with bars, restaurants and street vendors grilling delicious shish kebabs.
You won't be short of things to do should you wish to venture beyond the clubhouse come nightfall, and it's easy enough to stumble back to the hotel after a few rakis.
There's plenty to entertain in the daytime, too. The House is a short walk from Cukurcuma, a neighbourhood known for its antique shops, where you can easily lose a morning meandering up and down the steep side streets.
For something a little more exclusive, A La Turca House (00 90 212 245 2933; alaturcahouse.com) is a high-end antique shop hidden in plain sight. The building has no windows so you have to look out for the small sign. Ring the bell to go in through the "secret" entrance and discover the treasures inside.
Infuriatingly, considering the no photos rule, all the bedrooms beg to be Instagrammed. My "Medium" option was in the eaves and had a skylight, knee-high windows, and an unfathomable dimmer switch that meant, at night, the room was constantly bathed in flattering low light. The décor is a combination of classic Soho House (velvet upholstery, Fifties-style furniture, parquet floors) and traditional Turkish (large kilim rugs and brightly patterned fabrics), with retro touches such as an old-school record player and leather sofas. My only qualm? The mirrors are distressed: stylish but not exactly practical for doing your make-up.
As comfortable as the room is, however, you'd be foolish to spend your day cooped up inside. If it's sunny, the rooftop pool is the only place to be. The sun loungers are decked out in the group's signature yellow candy stripes, and the narrow lap pool is a startlingly clear turquoise. With attractive, polo shirt-wearing waiters available to cater to your every whim, you need only lie back, relax, and enjoy the view across the Bosporus. Camera phones away: this is for your eyes only.
Soho House Istanbul, Evliya Celebi Mahallesi Me Rutiyet Caddesi 56, Beyoglu, Istanbul, Turkey (00 90 212 377 71 00; sohohouseistanbul.com)
Standard rooms start at €195, room only.Reuse content